How to Protect Your Home & Landscape in the Winter (Expert Advice)

You put a lot of time and money into your home and its landscape. And as winter rolls in, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to protect both.

If you are a homeowner, there are four important things that you should do to protect your home and landscape in winter. These four tips will not only preserve your yard and property, but they can save you thousands of dollars in damage.

One thing is for certain: when you don’t perform proper maintenance on your home and yard before winter hits, problems can arise. And these problems can lead to avoidable home insurance claims.

So, what are the four important tips for protecting your home and landscape for winter? Let’s take a look! While we’re at it, we’ll also answer some of your frequently asked questions about other need-to-know concerns

You can also prepare for the winter season by ensuring you have the best home insurance coverage and rates possible. Begin comparison shopping now by entering your ZIP code into our free home insurance comparison tool.

Protecting Your Home and Landscape in Winter Tip #1: Check Up On Your Gutters and Roof

The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that in 2019, winter storms resulted in $2.1 billion in insured losses. Numbers like this reinforce the fact that checking your gutters and roof is absolutely crucial, so as to avoid any unnecessary loss.

This is particularly important in areas with harsh winters. In fact, you probably know that you have to keep your gutters clear for them to function properly. In the spring, a clogged gutter will simply spill over, which can lead to more water up against your home’s foundation.

In the winter, a clogged gutter is an even worse problem. As the snow melts from your roof and refreezes in the gutters, the edge of your roof can begin to accumulate ice. This is a real problem, especially when the gutters are cluttered with leaves and other debris.

Worst of all, if the gutters get heavy enough, your gutters and all the ice they are carrying can come crashing down. This can cause damage to your home’s windows, siding, or anything else which happens to be in the way. If it gets bad enough, ice-dams can cause damage or leaks in your roof. The video below digs deeper into how ice dams form, and what you can do in response:

Here are four ways to protect your home and prevent ice build-up in your gutters and the edges of your roof:

  1. Clear out any leaves/debris in the fall.
  2. Keep the snow off of your roof with a roof rake.
  3. Use heated cables, to melt the ice in your gutters.
  4. Ensure your attic is properly insulated.

Don’t forget — it’s also important to check for any loose or sagging gutters in the fall. If you happen to find any loose gutters in the fall, get them fixed!

Winter Tip #2: Clean Up the Leaves

There is a long-standing debate about whether it’s better to keep the leaves where they fall, or to remove them from the lawn. Here’s the deal — whatever you decide, it’s never a good idea to leave fallen leaves around or near the foundation of your home. Leaves against the foundation of your home can cause several different issues.

Leaves are a magnet for:

  1. Moisture
  2. Insects
  3. Rodents, which can eventually enter your home
  4. Molds and Fungus

Because leaves hold moisture, they can cause rot along your foundation. This problem gets even worse as the wet leaves are a perfect breeding ground for mold and fungus. This can quickly lead to the spread of mold into your home. Needless to say, by taking the appropriate action now, you’re protecting your home and your yard from a number of serious issues.

Sure, you can compost fall leaves. It is, after all, an eco-friendly form of lawn care, no matter the season. However, unless you want to look into mold coverage for home insurance, be sure to remove any leaves against your house in the fall. One year of leaves against your home may not make a huge difference. But given a few years, leaves against your foundation can cause many issues.

Winter Tip #3: Deer-Proof Your Landscape

Since the history of lawns began, deer and other critters have been a problem that homeowners have had to deal with. Unfortunately, when it comes to your lawn and landscape, there is not much coverage that comes from your homeowners insurance policy. That is why it’s important to protect your landscape.

In the winter, one of the biggest problems your landscape will encounter, besides the cold itself, is hungry animals — deer in particular.

Most people don’t know this, but hungry deer will even eat plants marketed as “deer-proof”. One of the most susceptible “deer-proof” plants in the winter is arborvitae, which is in nearly every lawn in northern states. So how do you prevent those hungry deer from munching on your garden and running your landscape design?

There are two ways.

#1 – Deer-Proof Your Landscape by Using Deer Fencing

Deer fencing is often not the prettiest solution. But, wrapping your gardens and bushes in deer fencing is one of the best ways to keep deer from munching on them. Plastic and metal fencing are the cheapest options. However, burlap has the added benefit of protecting your plants from the wind too, which can wilt your plants when it gets cold out.

#2 – Deer-Proof Your Landscape by Using Liquid Deer Solution

Liquid deer solution is a great alternative to fencing. It works by making the plants smell unappetizing to deer. Though some brands vary, it is typically made of a base of rotten eggs. Yes, it stinks for a day or two, but it is not quite the eyesore that the fencing options tend to be. You will have to apply a liquid deer solution several times throughout the winter, but it is easy to apply. Best of all, it’s cheaper than deer fencing.

Winter Tip #4: Look for Dead Trees and Branches

This one really applies year-round. However, due to the extreme weather of winter, it is a particularly good idea to remove any dead branches or trees in the fall.

Any dead trees or branches that may be hanging over your home should be removed to avoid damage during extreme winter weather.

When it comes to branch removal, there is a right way and a wrong way. Watch this video to learn more about how to make the right cut so as not to harm your tree:

Something else to keep in mind: One of the most common home insurance myths is that if a neighbor’s tree falls in your yard, his or her insurance will cover it. But that isn’t always the case — your insurance might end up covering the damage. If you see a potential with a neighbor’s tree, be sure to address it now. You should also take time to read through your policy beforehand to learn what your policy does or doesn’t cover in terms of fallen trees or branches.

Bottom line? Freezing temperatures and ice build-up will make dead trees and branches more likely to come down. To avoid any damage to your home, it is a good idea to remove any trees or limbs that may cause damage in the wintertime.

Other Ways to Protect Your Home and Yard this Winter

To ensure you’re as prepared as possible, we leave you with some additional tips in protecting your home and landscape this winter:

  1. Mulch your yard: Leaving an extra layer of mulch around trees, plants and shrubs during the fall can help provide an extra layer of insulation come freezing temperatures
  2. Water your yard: As much as you can, keep your lawn and plants properly hydrated during the fall months.
  3. Clean and maintain your lawn equipment: There’s nothing worse than digging into your shed to find out that much-needed shovel or tool is  is not working. Be proactive now and make sure all of your winter-weather tools are ready for use.
  4. Weather-proof your home: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests going through a checklist that includes checking your insulation, checking or installing a smoke detector, and having your fireplace inspected.

Finally, we can’t stress just how important it is to have a good understanding of what’s in your home insurance policy. Before winter hits, protect your home and yard by reviewing your home insurance declaration page so that you’re confident of your coverages, limits, and deductibles.

Frequently Asked Questions: Protect Your Home and Landscape in the Winter

Protecting your home and landscape in the face of wintry weather is a no-brainer. But we understand that you still may have some questions. From covering shrubs to a night of frost, we’re digging into some of your frequently asked questions.

#1 – How do I protect my bushes in the winter?

Protecting your bushes becomes critical in the face of a cold snap or freeze. To protect your bushes in a winter freeze, you can cover them with burlap, sheets, or blankets.

Experts agree that the best way to cover shrubs is to create a frame so that the burlap, sheet, or blanket does not touch the shrub. This can be done by using three or four stakes to hold up the material, creating space between it and the plant.

#2 – How do I  prepare my house for freezing weather?

Some key ways you can protect your home in freezing weather include protecting your pipes, checking your heat to make sure it works properly, inspecting your fireplace and chimney, and making sure all windows and doors are sealed.

#3 – Will one night of frost kill my plants?

That depends on a few factors. For instance, if the frost takes place during the winter months, it’s possible that your plants will have already become accustomed to cold temperatures and won’t be damaged at all. However, if the frost takes place later in the spring, this could come as a shock to plants already accustomed to warmer temperatures. In this case, they may not survive.

Other variables – such as the age and maturity of the plant, or the severity of the frost is – are also important. Our advice? As soon as you know potentially damaging weather is on the way, do your research and make sure your plants are protected.

Protecting Your Home and Landscape each Winter: A Final Word

For many, winter is the time of year that requires the most preparation, especially if you want to protect your home from unwanted insurance claims. With all of the preparations required to protect your home as winter rolls in, it’s easy to overlook the outdoor tasks required to protect your home from avoidable damage.

Maintaining the outside landscape of your home is truly “Home Insurance 101,” and is as important as maintaining the inside — especially as winter comes near! Use these four tips to help keep your home insurance rates in check, and to avoid preventable damage to your home this winter.

Be sure to find the best insurance company before winter sets in. Begin comparing rates now by entering your  ZIP code into our free home insurance comparison tool.

Author Bio: Douglas Dedrick is a landscaper with over a decade of experience who writes on several topics including lawn care, landscaping, and law. Connect with him or read more at Healing Law.